The Caliban Shore

Stephen Taylor

In The Caliban Shore, Stephen Taylor pieces together the extraordinary true saga of The ‘Grosvenor’, a British ship which ran aground hundreds of miles from the nearest European outpost, leaving its crew of men, woman and children to struggle across the unfamiliar territory of South Africa.

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The ‘Grosvenor’ was one of the finest East Indiamen of her day, a grand three-masted square-rigger of 741 tons bristling with 26 cannon. When she ran aground on the treacherous coast of south-east Africa, an astonishing number of her crew and passengers, including women and children, reached the shore safely. But the castaways were hundreds of miles from the nearest European outpost – and utterly ignorant of their surroundings and the people among whom they found themselves.

Stephen Taylor pieces together this extraordinary saga with tremendous narrative flair. Drawing upon much new research, he sifts the myths that became attached to the ‘Grosvenor’ from a reality that is no less gripping. Taking the reader to the heart of what is now the Wild Coast of Pondoland, The Caliban Shore reveals the misunderstandings that led to tragedy, tells the story of those who escaped and unravels the mystery of those who stayed.

Critic Reviews

When the merchant ship Grosvenor ran aground on the deadly coast of south-east Africa in 1782, most of her crew and passengers reached the shore in safety. But this was just the start of their ordeal. How some survived and others perished, hundreds of miles from European civilisation, makes a thrilling read.

Daily Express
Critic Reviews

Taylor has unravelled a fascinating tale of survival, noble sacrifice, human weakness and the clash of cultures.

Mail on Sunday
Critic Reviews

The details are much more fascinating than the bald statistics, and Taylor's account combines local knowledge with thorough historical research.

Sunday Times
Critic Reviews

'It is not a new story, but in The Caliban Shore Stephen Taylor tells it with such vivid detail that it reads more horrifically than ever ... Episodes of this saga were depicted by several contemporary artists and Taylor too goes about his task in a painterly way, with sweeping brushstrokes and passages of thrilling chiaroscuro. He uses a far broader canvas than they did and sets his characters against the widest possible background ...It is a pitiful but undeniably fascinating tale and Taylor tells it with a sort of compassionate enthusiasm.'

Jan Morris, Observer
Critic Reviews

'This is a painstakingly researched and superbly written telling of an enthralling story.'

Literary Review
Critic Reviews

'Stephen Taylor's meticulous reconstruction renders a historically responsible narrative of events compiled from contemporary sources ... The Caliban Shore is unsparing in its depiction of a scene of protracted human misery in which the major victims are all vividly drawn. It makes for painful and unsettling reading ... The narrative's beautifully observed descriptions of one of the most remote regions on earth render the survivors'ordeal more than poignant.'

Times Literary Supplement

Stephen Taylor grew up in South Africa, and after moving to Britain worked as a foreign correspondent for The Times in Africa, Asia and Australia. He is the author of several celebrated books on Africa, including The Mighty Nimrod and Livingstone’s Tribe: A Journey from Zanzibar to the Cape. The Caliban Shore was called ‘a wonderful book’ by Paul Theroux…

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